Abnett, Lanning and Coipel talk 'The Legion'

Tue, October 23rd, 2001 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Keith Giles, Staff Writer

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[The Legion]On Wednesday of this week, DC Comics will re-launch their teen super-hero title, "The Legion."

Written by the dynamic duo of Danny Abnett and Andy Lanning, the new title will pick up where events in the "Legion Lost" and "Legion Worlds" mini-series left off. Abnett, Lanning and artist Olivier Coipel spoke to CBR News about their new and improved version of the long-running book.

"There isn't a team book like 'Legion,'" said Lanning. "Its scope is huge, and its history is deliciously extensive. And though it's set in the far future, it's also firmly part of the DCU, a chance to see what the DCU of today will become. The new series is a return to what might be seen as 'Classic' style stories. The reformed Legion working to protect the positive future of the United Planets, with the optimism and sheer fun of the great days of the Legion, but told with a modern, fast approach."

Speaking to CBR News about his work on the new book was artist Olivier Coipel who also shared his excitement about the new Legion.

"It's a new beginning for the Legion," said Coipel. "It's exciting and you really have the feeling of a sci-fi story with great scale. I really think that fans, old and new, will enjoy these new adventures. You'll see the characters in situations you never saw before."

For fans who haven't yet discovered their earlier work on "Legion Lost" or "Legion Worlds," Abnett and Lanning have gone out of their way to make sure that the first issue of Legion will be a great place to jump on board.

"Everything you need is there from issue one," said Lanning. "'Legion Lost' and 'Legion Worlds' lay the ground work but (these) are good stories in their own right. With any luck, the fun a new reader has with issue one will send him looking for the back issues. Not because he needs them but because he wants them."

"Some of the events are related to 'Legion Lost' of course, but the main story doesn't need a complete knowledge of the Legion," said Coipel. "I don't think you need to go further back than 'Legion Lost' to keep up with the story,"

In fact, artist Coipel had no prior knowledge of the Legion of Super-Heroes before his first work on the title, although he's heard that a guy named Mike Grell once did some work with the book.

"I didn't know the Legion until I started on 'Legion Of The Damned.' I grew up in France where the Legion is mainly unknown," explained Coipel. "DC sent me some back issues and the reboot of the book. So for me, I'm still discovering the Legion. As for Grell's issues, a lot of fans are referring to him so I'm chasing down some of his issues!"

One of the main complaints against previous versions of The Legion Of Super-Hero is the seemingly endless array of characters who compose the team. Artist Coipel has approached the title with a new perspective.

[The Legion]
Artwork used in a "Legion" advertisement.
"It really is a challenge for the composition and its fun at the end when you did a drawing with all these characters," said Coipel. "It looks like real work, especially when readers enjoy it, like the ad we did for the promotion. Of course when you're late on the pages it quickly gets overwhelming. But I shouldn't complain, I didn't have the opportunity to draw the full cast of the team yet!"

Not only has Coipel enjoyed drawing the characters, he's even begun to develop an attachment to a few of them.

"For now I love Ultra-Boy, Chameleon, Umbra, (and) Kid Quantum mainly because of their character. It's like meeting someone you don't know and the more you know this person the more you appreciate (them)."

During their run on "Legion Lost," writers Abnett and Lanning proved they're that they're not afraid to kill off major characters in the book. As a result, fans have learned never to get too comfortable with the status quo. But, their goal isn't to slim down the long cast of characters into a more manageable group, rather explore the endless possibilities that a roster this large has to offer?

"All the Legion characters are cool, and they are a 'legion' after all," said Abnett. "...we are trying to develop a story-telling style that keeps everyone in the frame without the weight of numbers bogging things down."

For as long as the Legion Of Super-Heroes has been around, it has drawn comparison's, both good and bad, to Marvel's X-Men. Abnett and Lanning agree that there are similarities, but they're not trying to create another version of the Merry Mutants.

"The X-men is about a group championing a repressed minority, while Legion is about the union of different cultures and species for a common good," said Lanning.

With the recent exposure given to writers Abnett and Lanning through their 'Legion' books they've been in high demand from other comic publishers.

"More Legion stuff, possibly crossovers. Andy's inking Wonder Woman," said Abnett. "Ice Man, Bloodstone [for Marvel] , some stuff we can't announce yet [and] something for Wildstorm."

"Dan's also working on Planet of the Apes for Dark Horse, not to mention Sinister Dexter and Durham Red for 2000AD and his Warhammer 40K novels for Games Workshop," said Lanning.

So, what sort of stories can fans expect to read starting with Legion #1?

"Big ones. Internal and external threats, large-scale sci-fi concepts, and a definition of, and re-founding of, the Legion," said Lanning. "Bigger and better than ever."

Legion #1 is on sale tomorrow, October 24th.

Click the images below to see enlarged versions.

 
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